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Decision No. 476

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April 17 1980
In Re: Constitutionality of an Annual Conference voting to include parts of the Discipline in its own Standing Rules.

Digest of Case

An Annual Conference may include quotations or citations from the Discipline in its own Standing Rules. An Annual Conference does not have the prerogative to vote to approve, disapprove or modify actions of the General Conference. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2515 of the Discipline.

Statement of Facts

The South Carolina Annual Conference has included several quotations from the Discipline within its Standing Rules. In the 1978 session an oral inquiry was made to the Presiding Bishop asking: Does the Annual Conference have authority to adopt and include in its Standing Rules as action or information and mandatory legislation adopted by the General Conference and included in the 1976 Discipline of the Church? The Bishop ruled that the Annual Conference does not have such authority. In the 1979 session of the Conference the Committee on Standing Rules presented the same Rules for action. Upon appeal to the chair, the Bishop reminded the Conference of his ruling in 1978 and then requested the Conference to affirm or deny his previous ruling. The Conference voted to sustain the Bishop's ruling. Subsequently the Chairman of the Committee on Standing Rules moved that the South Carolina Annual Conference seek a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council "as to the legality of including in the Standing Rules ... a rule which has already been adopted by the General Conference and is included in the Discipline . . ." The Conference approved the motion and requested the decision. The request was filed with the Judicial Council during the 1980 General Conference Session. ANALYSIS Par. 702. 1 authorizes the Annual Conference to adopt rules and regulations not in conflict with the Discipline. There is no prohibition against including quotations from the Discipline in Annual Conference rules and regulations. Simple citations might accomplish the same effect without the unnecessary duplication, but Annual Conferences, Boards and Agencies may quote the Discipline to make more clear its obligations and procedures and insure compliance with the actions of the General Conference. Each Annual Conference votes on its own rules. However, the vote on inclusion of required regulations previously adopted by the General Conference does not constitute a legal vote of acceptance or rejection of that material. Quotations from the Discipline may be included for purposes of information, interpretation and clarification. Annual Conferences may present petitions to the General Conference and may vote upon Constitutional amendments referred to them by the General Conference. However, Annual Conferences do not have the prerogative to vote to approve, disapprove or modify General Conference action. Even so, an Annual Conference may include in its own rules quotations from the Discipline with the understanding that they do not vote on the essence of such quotation. When quotations are included they should be exact and with proper designation as to source.

Decision

An Annual Conference may include quotations or citations from the Discipline in its own Standing Rules. An Annual Conference does not have the prerogative to vote to approve, disapprove or modify actions of the General Conference.

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